One of the questions we regularly get asked is do Shopify stores rank? Our response is always a resounding yes, but we qualify it with “as long as you do X, Y & Z.
Where platforms like WordPress (WooCommerce) and Magento have evolved over time to be well equipped to to handle the ever changing environment of algorithm changes and updates. Even these platforms however require a basic knowledge of search engine optimization to really gain that success they desire.
Shopify however is another beast all together and while it does have some amazing benefits for e-commerce, it also has some glaringly obvious issues, which we still find strange that they haven’t been dealt with yet. We believe their user base could be double what is is now (close to 600K stores around the world in mid 2018).
The Shopify Conundrum
Shopify has exploded over the last couple of year to become one of the market leaders in the e-commerce space. One of the main reasons for this is the exceptional effort that has gone into the intuitive design, and laymans setup that allows almost anyone to get a store up and running, very, very quickly. The integrations with payment gateways and 1000’s of other apps via the app store, really set them on a path to success early on.
This has also lead a plethora of wiley gurus to teach and train a hungry bunch of wannabe entrepreneurs with online courses ranging from drop shipping to running traffic with Facebook and social media advertising. This has certainly skewed the use of traffic generation strategies toward paid methods, and they certainly can work incredibly well when executed well. But these strategies can also suck capital fast, leaving many startup ecom stores blowing in the wind.
Maybe because of this, the creators and developers at Shopify have forgotten that organic traffic is one of the core foundation strategies to generate long term success with e-commerce. The platform has dropped the ball somewhat on this front, but luckily with some careful planning and restructuring it’s not all that hard to build a shopify store ready to rank.
One of the main issues with the platform is simply that some basic structural elements are missing. It is improving, with canonical URLs now a core part of the structure. But why didn’t they go further and allows options to noindex or allow canonicals for paginated and tag pages. This can be easily executed with some of the good seo apps in the apps store, or by some simple coding, but it really should be default for any serious e-commerce platform.
With All These Issues, How Do The Rank?
As I mentioned earlier, many of these structural issues can be dealt with quite easily, as long as you know what you’re doing. Another core reason once set up correctly, that stores rank well, is that all stores are setup on a subdomain of Shopify.com, and then 301 redirected to the domain of the store.
This essentially ensures some massive authority is pushed to a store immediately on launch, that you don’t get with Magento or WooCommerce. This fact alone, I think has been massively overlooked by large parts of the SEO community. But as we know, this wont help if the on site setup has problems.
Google and the other search engines have also seemed to fall in love with the liquid code, which the platform is built with. The code, plus the subdomain setup in the products servers, also makes is reasonably fast, although still not fast enough IMO.
So to clarify, the stores rank gangbusters, but you certainly need to take the time to learn the process, and understand how the pieces of the puzzle can be put together from an SEO perspective. There are a few differences in ranking a Shopify store, and quirks that are not needed, or not known on other platforms.